Boosting Personal and Social Virtues
IKIM VIEWS by DATUK NIK MUSTAPHA NIK HASSAN , Director General, IKIM
Our ability to develop individual character and to implement social justice for the present and future progress of society greatly depends on our social strength.
IT is imperative for society to look within itself occasionally to assess its strengths and weaknesses with a view to strengthening individual and social virtues and minimising their shortcomings.
Our present and future successes will definitely depend on society’s willingness and ability to adopt and practise good social principles and values.
The cause of social decline is due to foolish practices that violate noble human principles and values.
The Islamic approach towards society’s strength insists first on developing good individuals and second, on organising social systems based on social justice.
These achievements will promote an environment conducive for individual cooperation within society in all activities.
Social harmony and equilibrium are the result of having moral individuals and an operative system that are able to uphold social justice.
There can never be social cooperation and harmony in a society if the above elements are not developed.
Western thinkers, at the moment, are seriously analysing their social conditions.
They are of the view that the social dis-equilibrium contributes significantly to economic decline.
This can be attributed to their approach to social organisation.
The individualistic approach to economic organisation is being critically evaluated.
Political scientist Francis Fukuyama is of the view that spontaneous socialisation is critical to economic life because virtually all economic activities are carried out by groups rather than individuals.
Before wealth can be created, human beings have to learn to work together, and if there is to be subsequent progress, new forms of organisation have to be developed.
Fukuyama is also of the opinion that the way economic organisations are being organised in the West needs further revision.
He strongly believes that organisational innovation has played an equal, if not more important role than technological development in strengthening production efficiency.
This view is supported by economic historians Douglass North and Robert P. Thomas. They both went a little further and considered efficient economic organisation as the key to economic growth; and, in fact, the main factor that contributed to the rise of the European economic power of the past.
James S. Coleman, a Western sociologist, also supported the view that socialisation of people or the ability of people to work together for a common purpose in groups and organisations is vital.
Coleman argued that in addition to skills and knowledge, a distinct portion of human capital has to do with people’s ability to associate with others.
This is critical not only to economic life but to virtually every other aspect of social existence as well.
Social cooperation should be extended beyond performing duties within an organisation.
Society as a whole has to develop the spirit of living and working in a harmonious environment.
“Together we chart our success” should be our guiding principle.
Thus, the fortunate in society should always make a positive contribution towards the less fortunate.
It is social nature that one is dependent on the other regardless of one’s social or economic condition. Islam believes man needs each other to progress.
The Quran teaches us that man’s sociability is embedded within his or her natural disposition: “O people! We created you from a male and a female and made you into nations and tribes, so that you might know one another, truly, the dearest among you to God is the most pious among you.”
Allah has also created man in diversity, with regards to their physical, spiritual, intellectual and emotional capacities and possibilities.
Allah makes some superior in one way and others in another, so that all will require the basics for the inter-connectedness and inter-dependence of life within society.
Thus, human relationships should be based on sincerity and honesty. The utilitarian principle of being calculative for one’s self-interest in one’s relationship with others should not be a common practice.
Similarly, with human relationships, which is solely based on the letter of the law, individuals should inculcate the spirit of caring and loving towards others, particularly the less fortunate.
Russian historian and writer Alexander Solzhenitsyn critically mentioned the social phenomenon of legalistic relationship between individuals in the Western society.
He commented: “A society based on the letter of the law and never reaching any higher, fails to take advantage of the full range of human possibilities. The letter of the law is too cold and formal to have a beneficial influence on society.
“Whenever the tissue of life is woven of legalistic relationships, this creates an atmosphere of spiritual mediocrity that paralyses men’s noblest impulses. After a certain level of the problem has been reached, legalistic thinking induces paralysis; it prevents one from seeing the scale and the meaning of events.”
For the present and future progress of our society, our social strength has to rely strongly on our ability to develop individual character and to implement social justice.
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